Victorians and Their Not So Subtle Bustle

One of the things I enjoy doing is dispelling the myth that the Victorians were prudes. Oh, they might try to fool you with their dress rules (an ankle is showing! horrors!), but even there they often failed.

Let’s face it. The bustle was created for one reason, and one reason only.


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  1. And for those of us without a lot of junk in the trunk, they were not entirely a bad thing πŸ˜‰ However, I’m far too lazy to get hitched up in that rig every morning. Who has that kind of time?? I can’t even imagine squishing into a seat on a plane wearing one of those. o.0

  2. Hahahahaha!

    But on the plus side, it probably could come in handy when you want to “accidently” knock someone out of your way.

    “Oh sorry. My darn skirt, you know.” πŸ˜‰

  3. Just like tight jeans and high heels. πŸ˜‰

  4. haha! Exactly, Ralfast. i was waiting for that comparison. πŸ˜‰

  5. Yes and looks just as painful. πŸ˜‰

  6. Man. You could hide another person under all those ruffles, provided the other person was a child or a dwarf.

  7. Aw I always love these dresses. But they cost a fortune to get made. Heck even Medieval gowns and they are not so puffy!

  8. You got that right, Ralfast,

    Ladies fashion has never been known for its comfort! And yikes- especially not back then. If I ever went back to that time, I’d be running around in the Artistic Dress of the Pre-Raphaelites and Bohemians. Now those were both beautiful and comfortable. Win-win. πŸ™‚

  9. Marian,

    heh. That’s nothing compared to the earlier crinoline. At their height of popularity, they got so crazily huge, you could hide a whole family under the dress!

  10. Hey Lora!

    I love the way some of them look. Especially Michelle Pfeiffer’s dress (that color!) Miss Kitty’s, and the one Ryder is wearing as Mina Harker. I don’t like the ones where the bustle is too big.

    But even the ones I do like, I remind myself just how heavy they actually were.

    I think it would be fun to wear them on special occasions. A night out on town, or to a fancy dinner party. But not every day to go shopping at the food market like women back then had to.

    So yeah. I wouldn’t mind if they came back as an alternative to the cocktail dress. πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Tasha, Michelle Pfeiffer’s dress color is very pretty. I think the bustle design was more to attract man. Now I am curious who came up with the design…a man or a woman. Back than I believe a woman should be modest, act, and look as a woman. Perhaps with the lower neck line or tight top and big junk in the trunk as DD mentioned was not a bad thing at all. The men could see the woman coming from a decent away a way from her silhouette. Plus it left somewhat of an imagination to the mind.

    Me if I was too wear one. Mines would no longer look like an one seater chair it would look like a couch, lol. The material I believe weight a lot. I want to say a ton but in weight amount that is not accurate only in expression. I believe the women were use to it as like changing shoes. The reason why I say that is look at people who wear clothes over clothing over clothing. Yes the clothing help protect them from the sand but does not help with heat. You can ask a person from Egypt or from the dessert and they will tell you it was very comfortable and not hot as we think. Believe me I have asked, lol.

    One thing though that I really love but can’t stand wearing at time is the corset. Sure they have some cute corset that you can wear with jeans and a short leather jacket. Oh those was the days. But real corset the one with the metal bones in them. My goodness I have seen pictures of them in the past that it really hold people in really good. But long wearing of it tight can actually disfigure the area of wearing it making the body section very tiny. Yuck. I seen a photo of a famous lady back in the days when I was looking up the history of corset for a class paper.

  12. Hey Lora,

    “I think the bustle design was more to attract man”

    Exactly. Hence, my tongue and cheek statement that the bustle was invented for one reason. πŸ˜‰

    On the heaviness, I do understand what you are saying about what they wear in the desert. In that case, appearances are deceiving. The material is very light and fitting for the temperature. But for the Victorian dresses- they really were horribly heavy. The layers of petticoats alone could weigh up to 12 pounds.

    You’re dead right about those corsets.They really were dangerous, especaily when tight-laced. Doctors kept trying to warn women not to do so- but most just wouldn’t listen.

    Anyway, between the heavy dresses, and tightening the corsets to truly life-threatening levels- that is why females in that era actually DID faint a lot!

    edited to add: To be fair, maybe the dresses themselves wouldn’t be uncomfortable if one wore them without all the extra crap underneath. I know i sure as heck wouldn’t. πŸ˜‰

    I can see the ad now. “Bustle dresses are back. And for the modern woman! Forget those petticoats and tight-lacedstays and just slip right into one of these beauties!”

    I could go for that. πŸ™‚

  13. I never see anyone wearing dresses like that anymore 😦 I miss those days πŸ˜›

  14. Heya Chazz,

    Then you guys need to start dressing up again, too.

    And hats should definitely come back. They look so cool and classy on men.

  15. Hear, hear! My sister’s husband refused to even dress up on a cruise, stuck to blue jeans and t-shirts the whole time.

  16. How boring!

    Dressing up on special occasions is part of the fun. It adds to the whole experience.

  17. If you lived in this temperature, you wouldn’t want to dress up either

  18. Can’t blame you for that, Chazz. πŸ™‚

    But uncomfortablility (not to mention utter inconvenience) is why women don’t go walking down the streets like they did back then either. And a suit, tie, and hat, can’t compare to the layers upon layers upon layers of clothing the women were forced to wear. So if the heat would be bad for you, imagine how much worse it was for them.

    There’s a reason why the flappers said, “the hell with all these trappings!”
    I’m very glad that in today’s world I can walk around in a pretty skirt or day dress and be comfortable at the same time.

  19. I think the dresses are lovely, but i can’t imagine trying to sit down in on. Wouldn’t the bustle get in the way?

  20. And now I’m wondering how, if ever, women visited the restroom in clothes like those…

  21. Diane and Marian,

    Yes…one does wonder!

  22. Oh, those Victorians. They liked big butts, and they did not lie.

  23. hahahahahaha!

  24. If you wear a corset correctly it’s actually really comfortable. The lacings in the back are supposed to be 1 1/2″ to 2″ apart. If the back completely closes you either have the wrong size or are lacing it too tightly. In Victorian times they even had corsets for pregnant women. And of course not everyone wore a corset.

    I can’t believe I haven’t been to your blog in so long Gypsy Scarlett. As always I love your posts.

  25. Thank you so much, Lyra! πŸ™‚

    And yes, as you said, it wasn’t the corset itself, but the tight-lacing of them that was dangerous.

  26. Ergonomic seats in the car are extremely uncomfortable when wearing a corset. That’s why you might see the ladies putting their corsets on in the parking lot at the medieval faire.

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